Now that they have agreed to a restructured contract to retain Brian Griese, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have informed their former Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Brad Johnson, that he will be released.
The move had been expected since Johnson lost the Buccaneers' starting job during the just-completed season, and it will save Tampa Bay about $4.5 million on next season's $85.5 million salary cap.
The club was leaving Johnson on the roster long enough to ensure that it could keep an experienced quarterback to go with youngster Chris Simms, which it accomplished over the weekend by agreeing to a new deal with Griese that could be worth as much as $32.6 million over five seasons. The team probably would have released Griese if it had been unable to rework his previous contract, which included a $6 million roster bonus due in March and a $2.1 million salary for next season.
Johnson joins a few other prominent veteran quarterbacks, Kurt Warner and Jeff Garcia, on the free agent market. Arizona, Chicago and Detroit appear set to compete to sign Warner, the two-time league most valuable player who is primed to leave the New York Giants after one season mentoring Eli Manning.
The Lions, Denver Broncos and perhaps the Buccaneers could be in the running to sign Garcia, the former Pro Bowler released recently by Cleveland who might have to accept a backup job.
Bettis Will Stay With Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will remain with the team for another season.
Bettis, 33, had contemplated retirement. The Steelers didn't release financial terms of the deal. . . .
The Chicago Bears released wide receiver David Terrell, the eighth overall pick in the 2001 draft. The move came two days after the Bears signed wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad. . . .
Cleveland released safety Robert Griffith. . . . The Browns are trying to re-sign quarterback Kelly Holcomb, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency tomorrow. . . .
The Panthers released quarterback Rodney Peete and guard Doug Brzezinski. . . . Oakland restructured the contract of offensive lineman Barry Sims to clear salary cap space. Denver did the same with left tackle Matt Lepsis. . . . Free agent wide receiver Derrick Mason, who was cut by Tennessee, could have about a half-dozen serious suitors, perhaps led by Jacksonville and Baltimore. . . .
Houston signed cornerback Demarcus Faggins to a contract extension. . . . The Cardinals appear willing to consider trade offers for cornerback Duane Starks. . . . Kansas City might attempt to trade for Miami cornerback Patrick Surtain. . . . New England released linebacker Roman Phifer.